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February 08, 2019

Racing Pregnant & Qualifying for Millrose

BY: MARIA MICHTA-COFFEY

Have you ever stepped on the line of a race and were terrified you wouldn’t have what it takes to achieve what you wanted, what you desired, what you needed? I’m not talking about nerves, fear of competition, or even self doubt. I’m talking about actual physical limitation.

maria_baby.pngeach sonogram made it feel more and more real.

Sunday Jan 13th I was about to do just that for the first time in my life. See I was 18 weeks pregnant and aside from a really bad sinus infection the past few days I was training better than I had my whole pregnancy, but better is relative. Rewind back to Sept; I struggled to train, I struggled so much I wound up at a cardiologist. I had my resting heart rate in the 80s (normally in the 40s) and the inability to do more than a mile without struggling and raising my heart rate up to 20k race pace. And that’s how we found out we were pregnant, through an early blood test to clear me for a CT scan. And as soon as you’re pregnant well it seems like any and every symptom can be attributed to or at least obscured by the physical task of growing another human. The only problem was because of our fertility struggles we knew exactly when we conceived and knew that my symptoms preceded conception by several weeks and thus could not be dismissed due to pregnancy alone. But no answers were reached and instead I went about my life in this weird haze of not really training, knowing physical activity was extremely encouraged for the health of me and my baby, all the while afraid it was all too good to be true and whatever affected me before conception surely wouldn’t allow me to stay pregnant. In fact I was alarmed that if my body was struggling this much physically this early how could it ever make it another 8+ months. But week after week, ultrasound after ultrasound, blood draw after blood draw I was still pregnant and finally after the second time hearing her rapid little heart beat I believed that this blessing was for real. 

So fast forward 10 weeks, 7 of which were marked by extreme nausea and more inactivity than physical activity that aside from two weeks prior consisted of 2x 30min slow race walk and 1-2x lifting/week, there I was about to step on the starting line and see just what I could do. I wasn’t so afraid of not qualifying for Millrose/Nationals as I was afraid of facing the reality that whatever was wrong with me in September had not resolved and even more terrifying might not ever resolve...

maria_millrose_blog.jpgLeft: times where I was able to train during the first trimester were such a welcomed reprieve from being cooped up inside often with severe nausea that I didn't care how slow just that I was moving. Right: The night I qualified for Millrose my niece Ava ran her first race ever making the night even more sweet!

And then the gun went off and I went out, the first 100m was hard, but I was faster than my target pace, but we all know that adrenaline can mask the taxing effort of too audacious of a start so I was not about to get too excited or brazen. I settled into my target pace at 200m. Then I hit 400m, exactly what I wanted and I wasn’t struggling, yeah I was working but I was working within myself not beyond myself. 600m still going, still strong! “I can do this,” I told myself, “we can do this baby girl”, I told her. “You’re going to qualify for your first Nationals baby girl...we are going to do it”. 1000m down and I’m still on pace, still even, and still working. Now I don’t even care so much about the time, the pace, I’m locked in on how I feel, I haven’t felt my body feel this smooth and powerful in 5 months. Bell lap, ok I tell myself we can pick it up a notch because sub 7 sounds so much better than 7 (which was my goal pace). I cruise through the line, breathing heavy but not winded and look up at the FAT posting 6:57.29...yes baby girl we did it and I’m glad you got to feel this endorphin rush...one day you too will crave it, one day you too will know what it’s like to train for something, to push your body to do incredible things, to feel alive in a way that is unlike any other, a feeling of freedom juxtaposed by complete control because you are in the drivers seat. A feeling that I will savor watching you achieve and take pride in watching as you make yourself proud. Yes baby girl, Mom is back and she couldn’t have done it without you!

This Saturday I get to step on the starting line again at Millrose and for the first time in a decade I’m competing at a National Championship without the goal of being champion. While I had imagined this would feel so bitter sweet instead I’m just beyond thankful that I’m healthy enough to “race”. Stay tuned to see how our race goes! Head up, wings out!

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